In recent days, Spain has been shaken by large-scale forest fires from north to south. It is estimated that between January and August 15, more than 270,000 hectares of vegetation burned. Portugal is experiencing an equally oppressive summer and fears a particularly dry month of September.
Spain and Portugal were still trying to overcome several forest fires on Wednesday, especially in central Portugal where the blaze in the Serra da Estrela natural park mobilized significant resources. The latter was however considered “under control” by the local authorities on Wednesday evening.
In Spain, more than 10,000 hectares went up in smoke near Valencia
Spain, first of all, has been faced with a wave of forest fires in recent weeks, particularly in the province of Valencia, in the east. The rise in temperatures favors the phenomenon in the first place.
The fire that has been raging since Monday in Bejis, 70 kilometers northwest of Valencia, has grown rapidly, ravaging more than 10,000 hectares, and led to the evacuation of 1,500 people, according to regional officials. Some 200 kilometers further south, in Vall de Ebo, the weather has offered some respite to the hundreds of firefighters who have been fighting a major fire since Saturday.
A forest scourge that is also a scourge for local wildlife, as shown in the video below showing wild boars trying to flee.
The rain and hail, which fell on an area where the flames ravaged more than 11,000 hectares, however grounded the firefighting planes and their teams. At the height of the disaster, around twenty aircraft assisted the rescue services in the sky according to the local press which noted the evacuation of six municipalities and 1,500 people.
The video filmed on the ground by the firefighters on the job reveals an overwhelming spectacle.
Terrible year on the fire front in Spain
The Valencian fire is undoubtedly the most dazzling and most appalling of the fires currently harassing Spain, but it is not an isolated case. According to a media point Onda Cero, we still deplored a dozen additional fires in the country in recent days, namely six in Galicia (three of them still active on Wednesday), five in Asturias, or that of Anon de Moncayo near Zaragoza. This latest catastrophe even devoured 6,000 hectares.
The statistics put forward by RTVE, based on data compiled by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), are also staggering: these fires devastated more than 270,000 hectares of vegetation in Spain between last January and August 15.
It should be noted, however, that this total is 100,000 hectares lower according to the Spanish government, which stopped its count a week before its European partner.
In Portugal, the lull after the blaze
In Portugal, there is a relative return to calm this Thursday morning after the last chaotic days. Thus, after being declared under control last week, the Serra da Estrela fire flared up again on Monday. An investigation was then opened to determine the causes. However, this home is now considered “under control” according to the words held Wednesday evening during a press briefing by the commander of the local Civil Protection of a press briefing Wednesday evening.
“The fire is under control, but it is not extinguished. There is a whole consolidation work that will continue in the coming days”, indeed declared on Wednesday evening on TSF radio the commander of civil protection Miguel Oliveira. .
This fire, which caused some 25,000 hectares of this protected area to go up in smoke, according to provisional estimates, has become the most important of the summer in Portugal.
The smell of burning had even been smelled in Madrid on Tuesday. It destroyed unique species in the park recognized by Unesco, in the heart of the Serra da Estrela mountain range culminating at around 2000 meters.
The objective of the 1,200 firefighters, as well as the eight aircraft, deployed on the spot was to manage to control this fire by Friday before the temperatures rise again.
In addition, another focus mobilized help on Wednesday afternoon, near the region of Caldas da Rainha, in the center of the country. A firefighter battling the local flames even lost his life there, killed by a heart attack.
The summer of all dangers
“We are not yet at the end of this critical period of fires,” warned Wednesday José Luis Carneiro, Minister of the Interior, after a meeting with officials from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and of the atmosphere (IPMA).
“We are going to enter a third heat wave” starting on Saturday “which should last until September”, which is shaping up to be a “hotter and drier month” than normal, he claimed. .
Portugal, which is experiencing an exceptional drought this year, has already experienced the hottest month of July in almost a century. Since the start of the year, some 92,000 hectares have gone up in smoke, the largest area since the deadly fires of 2017 which killed around 100 people, according to the latest report from the Institute for Nature Conservation. and forests.
These tens of thousands of hectares burned in the Iberian Peninsula echo the conclusions of the study conducted by the association Global Forest Watch, the World Resources Institute and the University of Maryland and published on Wednesday. Investigation, read here by BBC, established that 9 million hectares of woodland had been charred worldwide in 2021 alone, double that in 2001. Using the image now consecrated in such cases, the report exposes that the fires have cost the world the equivalent of 16 football pitches… per minute that year. Worse, we would lose three million hectares more forests facing the flames each year. Or the area of a country like Belgium.